I’ve had a frustrating realization, and I decided to share it with everyone here. My reason for it isn’t to garner sympathy, but to show how I use the skills I write about. This post may be long, and I’ll put a TRIGGER WARNING here that I’m going to be discussing the ways depression and anxiety are impacting my life right now.
More importantly, I’m going to describe how I fight back, even on a day like today when I don’t want to fight any more; I just want to go to sleep until everything stops being so miserable.
Before I get into the “what to do” part of this, I want to say that “why” really isn’t the point right now. At this stage, I’m in survival mode. I have to keep myself together until I can find a therapist who can help me unravel it all.The sources are many, but boil down to “Everything I’ve worked for is falling away/failing.” Long-covid, the decimation of my financial stability, loss of income thanks to my soul-sucking day job cutting bonuses, financial challenges that have arisen even in the past few weeks, ongoing health concerns and issues that have developed, it’s just kind of an “all the things” source.
Let me move on to the things that I’m doing to get through this. I’m going to link back to all the relevant posts I’ve made as I list the coping mechanisms and what symptoms they apply to.
First and foremost, I’m finding help. I don’t have a therapist just yet, but I’m looking for one.
In the meantime, I grabbed some note cards and listed the symptoms I’m having. I’m a person who does well with listing things, and all the better if I write by hand. Isolating the symptoms gave me a way to face down each of them.
The first one is mood swings. Wow, the urge to cry just pops up outta nowhere. So does the desire to just slam a fist into a wall—which isn’t like me, thanks.
The second symptom is appetite and weight change. Some days I just want to snack all day, some days I don’t care about eating and will just not eat all day. Neither is great for my weight. Both make sure my body and brain aren’t getting the nutrition needed to function well. Both are pulling a number on my guts as well.
The third symptom is one I’m so familiar with. I’m surprised I didn’t recognize it. I think it snuck by because I’ve been more focused on this bizarre array of symptoms from long-covid. This is anxiety. Specifically the heart palpitations, tremors, random waves of panic, and feelings of restlessness. Guess what symptoms are also part of post-covid. Also, it turns out that post-covid can cause anxiety. People who never had it before are having to fight it now.
To fight these, I have the use of my emergency kit. The ice packs are probably my favorite items in there. I can stay hydrated so I’m not having symptoms because of dehydration. I’ve also printed out a copy of the Desiderata and hung it on the fridge, my desk at home, and my pod at work so I can read it when I need to.
Symptom number four (I mentioned I’m not in a great place, right?) also overlaps with the long-covid. Fatigue and sleep problems. I have ways I can counter it where it is brought on by depression, though.
To fight the depression-driven fatigue and sleep issues, I can first get up and move when I feel tired. I don’t have to take a full hike, but I can take the dog around the block, wash some dishes, or whatever. The point of it is to make sure I’m not just letting depression drag me back to bed. If it’s depression, the physical movement will lift the desire to fall asleep. (Your mileage on that practice may vary.) I can also get back to my bedtime routine. Sleep hygiene is critical when you’re facing sleep issues.
Next up on the list is loss of interest. This is hard for me to defeat on my own. Mostly because if there isn’t any interest, why would I bother doing something? As I’ve said to others, I’ll now say to myself, do it anyway.
Step one is just scheduling the things I need to do, and then doing them no matter if I want to or not. I will have to “mom” myself into it, I’m sure, but not doing anything makes everything worse. This includes going to work even when I don’t feel like it. And wow, let me tell you, I woke up yesterday with an overload of never wanting to go back there again. Still, even a job I wish I didn’t have is a job that is paying the bills and providing me with resources that will lead to me not being depressed forever.
The last of the symptoms is the big one most people know. This one didn’t hit me until last week, and that was when I started paying attention to myself instead of writing everything off as long-covid. Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness like, “I’m a drain on my kids/friends. I’m never going to be good enough to hope for a better job. I’m never going to succeed as a writer. I can’t even get people to be interested in the story I’m writing. Why am I daydreaming that it’ll sell? I can’t even afford to get my car fixed because I’m so useless.”
I’ve had these thoughts for a while, but I hadn’t been aware that they weren’t just random days of feeling down. They were hitting every day, and often all day. They were setting themes in my dreams, even. I just missed it.
So, alright, these are the “approaching danger zone” thoughts and feelings. I know where they go if I don’t counter them. What I can do is first, recreate a budget. I’ll have to do that this weekend, when I have more time. Getting a handle back on the finances will let me pull the burning pot off the stove.
I can move my career forward. I just enrolled in an MBA program and start next week. The next 18 months will be all about me laying a foundation to make sure I can have the career I want and the income to match.
I hope this post helps you understand that I’m not writing this blog just for kicks. I’m writing it because these are the challenges I face, and I know I’m not alone. I just happen to have about 20 years of therapy (off and on) behind the things I’ve learned and I know ways to help. If you’re sitting in the same position I am right now, please get help. There’s no shame in seeing a therapist, and you’re worth the effort of recovering. You deserve a bright world, too.
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